UNCLE RONALD by Brian Doyle


Age Range: 10 - 12
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 Disconnected plot elements give this quirky tale from Doyle (Spud Sweetgrass, 1996, etc.) a superficial, slapdash air. Fleeing his abusive father, Mickey washes up at his uncle's farm outside a small Quebec town, where, due to some kindness, he loses his intense fear and penchant for bedwetting. Later his battered mother appears, too, with his father hard on her heels; she and Ronald drive him off, but in his rush to get away he falls beneath a passing train. Meanwhile, the town is engaged in a localized tax revolt, playing a variety of amusing pranks on a hapless squad of assessors. Doyle's anile brand of humor--Mickey's account of what happens when he tries to keep his bed dry by attaching a hose to himself will have some readers wincing, and after the tax collectors' wagon wheels are loosened, ``policemen's nuts'' becomes a running joke--trivializes the story's serious themes, although the serious ultimately weighs down the farcical. Framing the whole episode as a flashback narrated by Mickey at age 112 adds a faintly grotesque, pointless twist. Unlike Spud, this Doyle's a dud. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-88899-266-1
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Groundwood
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1997


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